Learning after the Army…

So in my 14 years in the Army I don’t think I ever did any kind of learning that wasn’t either a). Enforced or b). Mandatory. I didn’t do anything to better myself; I was sat stale and stagnant all that time. The reason? Well because I didn’t have to and nobody told to if I’m being honest! So, when it came to leaving the Forces (virtually qualification-less) and I had enrolled onto the CIPD Human Resources Practices course with Development Processes Group I was really quite worried. I’d paid a lot of money to do a course that spanned a significant period of time and I wasn’t even sure if I was capable of completing it…..Suddenly doubt crept in – Would I be able to do it? Was I intelligent enough? Did I still have the capacity to learn and retain information after all those years of being in the learning wilderness?

There was only one way to find out!

The first workshop I remember being especially nervous as I arrived at the Oulton Hall equipped with brand new pencil case, laptop and other sparkly new learning paraphernalia. I wasn’t nervous about meeting new people as I’d done that my whole career but worried that I wouldn’t have the foggiest idea about what was being taught, scared that it would all go over my head…So, as it turned out the first session was a bit heavy as we were introduced to the HR Profession Map and such and I honestly walked out of that room at the end of the day with my brain feeling like it had done 10 rounds with Mike Tyson!! I was just so relieved to be going home…

However, as the months went on and the workshops started flying by and more to the point the assignments were ‘meeting all criteria’ I started to look forward to them more and more. Id got it, it all clicked, my brain was back in absorbing mode and we were loving it. The thirst for information became more and more and the more I applied what I’d learnt at work the more I wanted to know…the learning became like a drug to me and I briefly wondered why I had not done some kind of development sooner? I was in this wonderful bubble. I had an amazing facilitator that was experienced, kind and supportive and I was surrounded by likeminded professionals all on the same journey.

Before I knew it we were at workshop 9 (the last workshop) and it was time to celebrate our success. We had made it and although there was still some work to be done it was a day of mixed emotions. I was so happy to be finally finishing the course as I’d dreamt of Sunday morning lay ins and lazy days instead of 4-5hrs slogging it out in front of the computer whilst the rest of the world perused the morning papers and drank slow coffees BUT I was also so sad that I wasn’t going to be meeting up with these great people who had now become firm friends and I wasn’t going to be doing any more learning.

Anyway, I submitted my final assignment and received the email I had long been waiting for – I had passed!! I was so pleased and have probably never been more proud of myself.

But with the course passed and having some time to reflect, looking back now with my attitude to learning the way it is I literally feel as though I have wasted the last 14 years of my life. I wish that I had done something different to vegging out in the block on a night watching rubbish TV or going out drinking when I was bored and enrolled in something at the Army Education Centre or at a nearby college. I wish I had used my time more productively, given myself better opportunities than I did. I mean the Forces predominantly supports its soldiers’ learning and it is all there for you – they even pay for it for goodness sakes! But as they say, you live and learn and I have certainly learnt my lesson – Never again will I allow myself to get into that rut, of that I am sure.

So what now for me and my continuous professional development?

Well, I’m already investigating and pricing up courses to work towards a Degree in Human Resources and I literally can’t wait but first….there’s the small matter of having a baby!! Yes, our baby is due on 3rd Jan and we are just thrilled about it but back to the matter at hand….Other than sharing an experience I just hope that this blog post might inspire one person who may be feeling some self-doubt or worry about learning that you can do it and all the hard work is worthwhile. Just go for it, stick your head above the educational parapet – you just might like it!


Employment Fair – Wed 22nd May 2013

Whilst popping in and out of the Resources Library at the Resettlement Centre, Catterick I became friendly with the staff there and on one of my last visits before I left the Army I was informed  of the Employment Fair at the Race Course in York. 

Now, after my experiences at the Vetting Expo in Bristol I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to attend. All those men peacocking their skills and experiences, peddling their CVs and pushing to get to the exhibitors.  However, this time I had a friend to go with which made things a lot better!  Although I felt a little nervous when I got there me and my Resettlement buddy went for our free brew before hand, had a little catch up and had a little chat about what we both wanted from the day.

 The set up of the Event was excellent with some smaller exhibitors on the ground floor, Companies that were specifically recruiting ex-Military personnel on the first floor and the Training providers on the second.  What I found at this event (and I suspect happens at most events) is that when the doors open at 1000hrs there is a massive influx of people and the venue is packed out. However, the majority will come and go within a couple of hours and then in the afternoon the event will be very quiet.  This gives the people that arrive later or that are willing to hang around that bit longer the  quality time with the Company reps and training deliverers without the pushing, shoving and without feeling pressured because there’s 10 more people behind you waiting to talk to that Company.

 At this stage of my Resettlement I was already aware of a lot of the Companies and Training Providers and had already registered with them online, however, it doesn’t hurt to go and get your face seen.  Go up, introduce yourself, explain that you’re registered with their Company or that you’ve done a course with them – It just gives you more of a profile.

I eventually left the event at about 1330hrs and had only given my details and CV to one company, (they were the only new Company I had any interest in).  I did however, see a few old faces and got to say cheerio to all the Career Transition Partnership staff that’d been so helpful in my Career Transition Workshop (CTW) and many other trips to the Centre.  One thing that might be helpful is – If the Employment Fair is near your home town to be then this might be a good opportunity to track down your local Regular Forces Employment Agency (RFEA) Employment Consultant as they are available to you for help and advice for the rest of your life.


Find other events like this at – https://www.ctp.org.uk/events

Employment Fair Hints & Tips – https://www.ctp.org.uk/assets/x/52373